Hariri met with Berri as part of his ongoing consultations.
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Barring last-minute hitches, a national unity government could be announced this week after a major hurdle over the Marada Movement's representation was overcome when Speaker Nabih Berri agreed to give up the Public Works Ministry to the group, political sources said Monday.In a flurry of intensified activity to clear the way for the government's formation this week, caretaker Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, a top aide to Berri, met Monday night with Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri at the latter's Beirut Downtown residence to discuss the substitute portfolio for the Amal Movement after Berri agreed to concede the Public Works Ministry to the Marada Movement.The major breakthrough in the six-week-long Cabinet standoff capped crucial talks held by Marada Movement leader MP Sleiman Frangieh with both Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai and Berri.Rai was reported to be seeking to bring Aoun and Frangieh, the two rival Maronite leaders who vied for the presidency, together in an ice-breaking meeting.While Frangieh was meeting with Rai in Bkirki, north of Beirut, the patriarch spoke to Aoun by phone but failed to persuade him to talk with the Marada Movement chief, a move that would have paved the way for the two leaders to get together at Baabda Palace, the sources said.Later, Frangieh said Berri had agreed to give up the Public Works Ministry to the Marada Movement, hoping that Aoun would accept this solution to the Cabinet formation crisis.
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